Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
The Bulldogs impressed to defeat the Newcastle Knights by 52 to 6 at Telstra Stadium to end Newcastle?s finals chances for the first time since 1996.
The Knights put in one of the most ill-disciplined first halves of the year as they struggled to contain the Bulldogs forwards, dropping off tackles and conceding half a dozen penalties inside their own 20 metres zone, mostly for play-the-ball indiscretions.
All five of the Bulldogs' first half tries came through their forwards in a dominating performance which has put the ghosts of last week's match well behind them.
A converted try right on the half time buzzer put the score at 34-0, embarrassing Knights fans and players.
Newcastle coach Michael Hagan ripped into his players at halftime, a speech that obviously worked wonders in the early stages of the second half.
Newcastle came out firing and scored in the 42nd minute. They continued to apply pressure, making the Canterbury side look sluggish.
But the Bulldogs hit back in the later stages of the game scoring three late tries to put the score beyond the half century mark.
Hazem El Masri kicked ten goals from ten attempts in a faultless kicking display, confirming his status as one of league's all time great goal kickers.
Newcastle now plays a consolation match to restore some hurt pride and the Bulldogs continue to firm as premiership favorites.
BULLDOGS 52 Tries: O'Meley 2, Ryan 2, Grimaldi, Maitua, Anasta, Utai Goals: El Masri 10/10 defeated KNIGHTS 6 Tries: Witt Goals: K Gidley 1/1
Telstra Stadium, Crowd: 20,043 Referee: Paul Simpkins
By the clock: Newcastle goes into this match as heavy under dogs but a win in this match could give them an outside chance to make the top eight with only two rounds remaining in the regular season. Steve Simpson comes into Knights as a late change for Adam Woolnough as well as Daniel Abraham who has also pulled out and Sonny Bill Williams has pulled out of the Bulldogs with a minor shoulder injury. Overhead conditions are fine
0 min: Bulldogs kick off
1 min: Goal ? El Masri (Bulldogs). 10 metres out in front after Ben Kennedy gave away a clumsy penalty from dummy half. 2-0 Bulldogs
10 min: Try ? O?Meley (Bulldogs). The Bulldogs have sustained the Knights in the lead up to the try; Mark O?Meley bumped several Knights player before scoring in between the posts. El Masri?s conversion attempt is successful 8-0 Bulldogs
13 min: Try ? O?Meley (Bulldogs). Excellent lead up play by the Bulldogs making plenty of offloads. Brent Sherwin throws a pass to Mark O?Meley to put him through a gaping hole and Robbie O?Davis misses him completley to give O?Meley a double. El Masri converts. 14-0 Bulldogs
20 min: News ? The Bulldogs have got a complete strangle hold of this match so far especially through the forwards. The Knights have tried to throw the ball around but simply can?t get pass this impressive Bulldogs outfit.
25 min: Goal ? El Masri (Bulldogs). 15 metres in front after the Knights were penalised for a two on one strip. 16-0 Bulldogs
29 min: News ? Braith Anasta kicks a 40/20 continuing his impressive showing so far in this match.
32 min: Try ? Ryan (Bulldogs). Bulldogs spread it wide; Brent Sherwin throws a pass to Andrew Ryan who runs through a big hole to score. El Masri?s conversion attempt is successful. 22-0 Bulldogs
35 min: Try ? Grimaldi (Bulldogs). Following a big bust by Reni Maitua; Tony Grimaldi runs into a hole, shrugs off a Knights and runs into score. El Masri?s conversion attempt is successful. 28-0 Bulldogs
40 min: Try ? Maitua (Bulldogs). The Knights continue to give away penalties which give the Bulldogs possession and territory inside there own 20 metres. Reni Maitua close to the line throws a dummy and fools the Knights defenders before scoring out wide. El Masri?s conversion attempt hits the upright and bounces its way over.
Half Time The score speaks for itself. The Knights have been ill-disciplined, not interested and simply dreadful. They?ve given away there finals hopes with the worse performance of the year. They just can?t stop the bigger, faster and stronger Bulldogs forwards or backs for that matter. Possession: Bulldogs 64% - Knights 36% Completions: Bulldogs 83% - Knights 57% 34-0 Bulldogs lead at the break.
40 min: Knights kick off
42 min: Try ? Witt (Knights). Matt Gidley puts Anthony Quinn into space; he attracts the fullback and passes it to the supporting player Steve Witt for the Knights first try. Kurt Gidley?s conversion attempt is successful. 34-6 Bulldogs
58 min: Try ? Ryan (Bulldogs). With the Knights running back into line the Bulldogs spread it wide; Andrew Ryan accelerates through a gap and motors past several Knights to score a double. El Masri converts. 40-6 Bulldogs
60 min: News ? The Knights have came out firing in the second half. Newcastle are running with some fire in there bellies after there coach Michael Hagan ripped into them in the sheds trying to pick up the pieces after a terrible first forty. The Bulldogs however have looked sluggish especially on defence early in the second half.
70 min: News ? Newcastle have been guilty one too many times putting in substandard kicks (not nesceraly on the last tackle) on the ground and giving away possession early.
74 min: Try ? Anasta (Bulldogs). Braith Anasta [pictured above] puts up a bomb, he chaces after it; Anthony Quinn lets it bounce and it goes behind him, Braith Anasta regathers the ball and scores. El Masri converts. 46-6 Bulldogs
80 min: Try ? Utai (Bulldogs). Bulldogs move it wide from a scrum, they loft it to Matt Utai who spins and beats four Knights defenders to score in the corner. El Masri converts his tenth conversion of the night.
Full Time The first forty minutes set the game up for the Bulldogs. The Knights gave away a mammoth amount of penalties inside there own 20 metres in a mediocre performance despite hitting back somewhat in the early stages of the second half. Newcastle will now miss the finals for the first time since 1996. Possession: Bulldogs 58% - Knights 42% Completions: Bulldogs 80% - Knights 61% Bulldogs win by 52 to 6 ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M O'Meley (Bulldogs) 2 - S Price (Bulldogs) 1 - B Anasta (Bulldogs) -----------------------------------------